We recently took on another Junior Manager, which at first, I’ll be honest, felt a little bit threatening. Someone moving into my turf, possibly gunning for the same promotion. But it turns out that we have very different backgrounds and very different strengths, and they seem to complement each other well. She started as a cashier and worked her way up to FOH Lead before this, so she’s better with the customer interactions and dealing with the cashiers (who are like the servers of the quick service world — cooks and servers often have trouble seeing eye-to-eye). I have my admin and culinary background, so I handle the nightly specials, ordering, inventory, and requests from corporate. We’ve been chef’s dynamic duo as the closing team.
The past few nights, though, definitely brought challenges. Staff called out from their shifts last minute, the restaurant was busier than expected, one girl had a meltdown in front of the guests, the power went out in a 5 block radius around our restaurant… it was bad. I thought, man — why is this so hard? I’ve closed on my own before, so it should be even easier with another manager. It was reassuring to learn that it was bad luck that all of these things seemed to occur simultaneously and that we did a good job of maintaining composure and pushing forward. I mean, it sucked but we survived. I’m very proud of that. We are definitely reevaluating our team (some cuts have been made, and some have given us their 2 weeks’ notice) and hope to build a stronger team, especially with the busy summer months ahead.
But, come hell or high water, I’m not going to let this restaurant break me. I definitely had my “I don’t want to be a manager anymore, let me be a line cook again” moments, and the honeymoon period of this new job ended really quickly, but I have my eyes on the prize. Once I get the title (and responsibilities) of Sous Chef, the sky’s the limit.
So last night, after just one month of being here, I was scheduled to work a shift by myself as closing manager. I was very pleased with how it went — no major issues, only a few customer complaints (the dreaded ask to “speak to a manager”), orders inputted for the next day, doors locked. I don’t know how it’s been in the past as far as having Junior Managers or Managers in Training running shifts by themselves, but I have a feeling that this is definitely the fast track. Chef has a lot of faith in me, so I’m slated to be the solo closing manager for the next few weeks.
Tonight went even smoother since I had Sous Chef M with me. He was pretty much invisible though; just my backup while I run the show, he said. Still, it was a relief to have that extra pair of hands and an extra manager on duty in case I had questions. He and I finally got to chat more; we had worked pretty much opposite schedules for the past few weeks. We even had a glass of beer; I guess he had worked that into his closing arrangements with Chef when he first started working here. (I teased him, “You’re just setting me up to get in trouble, aren’t ya??”)
I also heard through the grapevine (the grapevine being Sous Chef M) that he’s getting promoted to Sous #2 soon. (The hierarchy is Exec Chef / GM / #1, Sous / AGM / #2, Sous / AGM / #3, Junior Manager / Junior Sous.) And, he added, since he and Chef both like me and want me on the team, I may be fast tracked to get promoted to Sous #3 before my 1 year is up. Possibly as soon as my 90 day review! This is exciting news and definitely cheered me up after finding out that Junior Managers and Sous #3 tend to work primarily closing shifts. I was upset at first, since my primary reason for leaving Fancy Spanish Restaurant to come here was for better hours… aside from management training and all that. This wasn’t disclosed to me during the hiring process, so I feel like I have to adjust my expectations. But I think with the title bump, and since Sous Chef M would be open to switching with me for mid shifts on occasion, I think this is still overall a good move.
I’ll probably feel more positive about my overall experience when I finally stop feeling sick! Been down for the count with a cold for the past week. And speaking of sick, Sous Chef M heard me hacking up a lung today and commented “Why don’t you take a sick day, homie?” And then we just shared this look… he and I have both worked in kitchens long enough to know that calling out with the sniffles is not going to fly. Haha. But there have been multiple situations where he and I have bonded since we both have a good amount of kitchen experience, and I think I’ve earned his respect because of my background. Like being able to handle it when Chef talks shit to you about something (I have a thick enough skin to say “Yes Chef” and move on; Sous Chef M likes to talk back but they have that sort of joking relationship). Sous Chef K hasn’t been handling it so well and we both feel bad for her, but it seems like she just isn’t used to how old school chefs can be.
At least tomorrow I get a break from the restaurant — it’s off to corporate for New Hire Orientation (aka: getting paid to drink the kool-aid!).